Today was our last port stop in Canada. Saint John was the first incorporated city in Canada, settled in 1785 by fleeing Loyalists from the USA. Even Benedict Arnold made it his home for a few years.
The city sits on the Bay of Fundy and has the highest tides in the world, at over 55 feet. There is a tidal phenomenon of sorts here called the reversing tides - the ocean actually begins to flow upriver at low tide, and then slowly reverses itself as it moves towards high tide. When we visited it today, low tide was at about 7 AM, when we got there about 10:00 or so, the tide was flowing rapidly up river. When we returned later in the day around 3:30' the waters were calmer and had begun to flow back down river. It was kind of weird to see!
In 1877, a blacksmith was doing his work in the middle of a windy day. Across the way was the city barn where many of the horses were kept, giving the blacksmith easy access for shoeing the horses, etc. but someone had left the barn door open. Because of the wind, a spark from the blacksmith's shop traveled across the street, into the open barn and literally hit the hay, which caused the hay to catch on fire creating an incendiary fireball. Within three hours, the entire downtown had burned completely to the ground. Most buildings were built from wood, so they were no match for the fire. Thankfully, because it was in the middle of the day instead of at night, only 17 people were killed. It could have been so much worse.
The city was rebuilt pretty quickly after the fire, and life resumed as before. Today, the city's population stands at about 70,000; including those in the outskirts, the area has about 140,000 residents total.
Speaking of population, someone on board told me that the population of all of Canada is about the same as that of just California. That was pretty eye opening! I mean, think about the land mass in Canada versus that of California. Even taking into account the sparsely populated Yukon and Northwest territories, the population is really spread out.
There's a small public park in the middle of old downtown, called King's Square. It was built in 1785 as a war memorial. In 1930, a 17year-old boy by the name of Young was walking down at the docks at the port and saw a 6 year-old boy fall into the icy cold water. By icy cold, we're talking about 40 degrees, the year round temp, by the way. Young jumped in, managed to drag the young boy to the dock, saving him, but that cold water got the best of him, and Young then drowned. The townspeople, at the insistence of the 6 year-old's family, proudly erected a statue in King's Square to honor Young. Every year, the little boy's family came and brought flowers to the statue to remember Young's heroism. As that little boy grew up, married, and had children of his own, he continued to visit the statue, letting his children learn that if it were not for Young, none of them would be there.
In the middle of the city sits the largest public park in all of Canada, Rockwood Park. There is a golf course, two lakes, horse stables, miles and miles of trails, a children's playground whose entire ground is made of cork, to help protect the children from serious injury when they might fall down during play. In the summer, you can swim in the lakes and ice skate on them during the winter. There are also lots of monuments scattered about, and a drive through section where each province has a small plot where it's unique flag is flying. My favorite monument in the park follows a similar theme as the flags. As you know, the maple leaf is the country's flag emblem. This monument is that of a maple leaf, and it is made from the provincial rock from each of the provinces in the country. It's really a very striking and beautiful monument.
Our tour included a nice drive out to the countryside and to an old fishing village called St. Martins. It sits right on the Bay of Fundy and is a photographer's dream, with two covered bridges and a lighthouse, and it is possible to capture all three in one photograph, which I did. Speaking of pictures, I have been posting some to my Facebook page, but I will post photos here once I get back home and have unlimited access to Internet, so I can upload them. Free wireless and extra free time during a cruise do not go hand in hand!